Eliminations are a basic need for our feline friends. The goal to keep in mind is to provide positive litter box experiences so the cat will continue to use the box provided. If something startles him/her while doing their “business” this may make them avoid going to their box. This is why location of litter box is important also.
Most cats by nature use a soil type surface for elimination at approximately 30-36 days of age. Kittens will leave the nest to search out a loose substrate for elimination. Kittens learn specific areas and substrates to use by observation of their mother.
You can help train your kitten to use the litter box by confining to a small area with an appropriately sized box. As long as the litter is easily accessible and is the only loose substrate available, very little effort should be required to litter train the kitten.
- Always put the litter box in an easily accessible location, yet out of the way
- Have 2 litter boxes in home for one cat, and each additional cat, add 1 litter box
- Clean boxes at least once daily (if no urine or bowel movements in litter box, contact your veterinarian)
Once your kitten has been error free around the house for about a month, you can begin to decrease your confinement and supervision. Gradually increase the time that your kitten is allowed to roam while you are home. Once he/she can go unsupervised for a couple of hours without an accident, it may then be possible to leave for short periods of time. If your kitten chews or has accidents, then confinement and supervision may still be necessary.
By using consistency and rewards your kitten will learn appropriate elimination behaviors and take its first steps to becoming a happy and healthy member of your family.
A Safe Haven For Your kitten
Your lifestyle and schedule may result in your kitten being at home by itself. If this occurs you need to give your kitten a safe place of its own.
Kittens will choose their own place to sleep, but it is important to provide a warm comfortable place, where your kitten can feel safe. The carrying crate you brought the kitten home in could be its safe haven.
To get your kitten to use the crate: Put treats in the crate, let kitten roam in and out of crate, close door with kitten in the crate, then reopen right away. This will accustom your kitten to its crate.
If your kitten is doing what you want, give him/her a reward. The most important factor with successful positive reinforcement is finding something your kitten will be motivated to work toward. It can be anything, but most commonly it’s a small tasty treat. For positive reinforcement to be effective, it must be immediate. It works better if you give a command first, or if the kitten does the behavior with no prompting, give a command right after the desired activity is performed.
This has its place and that place is only if you catch the kitten in the act. This is the only time a punishment will be effective. It must coincide with the undesirable behavior, and must be unpleasant enough to deter the cat from repeating that behavior. Inappropriately applied punishment can cause fear, anxiety and owner avoidance, making punishment the least desirable tool for changing behavior. Keep in mind that you are punishing the behavior, not the cat. Punishment should never be considered unless the pet has the means to satisfy its nature and its needs. For example, the scratching cat should be provided with an appropriate scratching post before any attempts to punish undesirable scratching are initiated.
Your kitten at home
It is crucial to understand your kitten’s organization, territory and basic activities. Learning these and not disrupting them can result in a very happy kitten without behavior issues. A cat’s territory (which will become your home) is exclusive and quality is more important than space.
- Keep away from litter box
- Keep away from your plates (dining area, kitchen, etc)
- This will help reduce unwanted behaviors and nutritional imbalance
- This area must be conducive to playing, racing, jumping and climbing
- Kittens prefer resting in a warm spot. Your kitten’s bed would be good in a room close to your living area and maybe next to a window or heat vent
- Exercise is a huge part of your kitten’s health. It provides a means to channel energy into toning muscles rather than destructive behavior. Favorites for your kitten would be ones which allow climbing, jumping, a perch, playing with toys and scratching
- Kittens love being up high. Being on the same level as you makes him/her happy. If your home does not have enough places that are high and saft, try to make some by changing your surroundings.
- Cats are at their most vulnerable while sleeping, so they prefer to rest in areas where they feel safe and secure. Respect your cats privacy when resting and he/she will be more likely to seek you out when it is ready to interact
- A natural behavior in cats, they stretch their muscles, shed old cuticles, sharpen their claws, and mark territory. Cats scratch to leave scent marks that define their territory and tell other cats they have passed through. A scratching post can help your kitten scratch in a preferable area.
- Cats like to climb. A perch provides a safe place to watch any action going on. A perch is anything that allows your kitten/cat to lie, sit, sleep, or look outside from above.
- Cats like toys that squeak, chirp, jitter, swing, or vibrate. This reminds them of moving meals, enticing them to interact. Cats also like toys that have a wand or stick with a toy dangling from the end. Do not let your cat play with string, ribbon, thread, twistie ties, or hair ties. They will swallow this and can’t vomit these items up, there fore it can cause an intestinal blockage which could lead to death
In summary, a cat can become very demanding of attention, play and affection. Begin early to teach your kitten how to ask nicely for interaction. Obnoxious behavior such as swatting, excessive vocalization, biting and pouncing should not be tolerated. If your kitten begins to exhibit these behaviors, quickly and quietly leave the area and cease all interactions. Once the kitten is calm and quiet, call him over and resume interactions. The goal is for the kitten to learn that calm, quiet responses get your attention, not wild or aggressive ones. For this to be effective you must be certain that you make time each day for appropriate interactions with your cat that include play, petting, grooming, and naturally meeting his needs for food, water and a clean litter box.
Conflict between Cats
The assertive cat:
- Never backs away from other cats
- Stares at other cats
- Denies other cats access to resources (food, water, litter box)
- Rub cheeks, head, chin, and tail on people, doorways and furniture at cat height
When it sees it’s victim:
- Lowers its head and neck while elevating its hindquarters and stalks the other cat
- The hair along its back, on its tail and tail base may stand on end
- May Spray
The submissive cat:
- Spends large amounts of time hiding of away from the family
- Avoids eye contact with other cats
- Yields resources to other cats
When it sees the assertive cat:
- Crouches, may then flee
- Does not vocalize
- May spray
- May develop cystitis or other disease problem